Early on in high school, I was extremely envious of one of my classmates. He was a 6’5” strong and fast track star who was living the life I was supposed to live. My envious thoughts were at times all-consuming and generally destructive. Finally, God got my attention. In my senior year, I broke my wrist in the 2nd game of my basketball season. I was devastated. Worse than that, some little freshman was taking my place as the starting point guard. Once again, envy was lurking at the door.
Fortunately, God revealed to me this destructive flaw in my life. I watched as other teammates and friends demonstrated their own envy of this new freshman as they belittled him. Through God’s help, I decided I was going to do the opposite. I was going to admire him and support him. I began to mentor him and protect him from all the distractions competing for his attention and identity. God began to teach me the difference between sinful envy and Godly jealousy.
God tells us that he is a “jealous God” (Exodus 34:14) and a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29). This Godly jealousy protects His sons and daughters from all rivals that attempt to replace His rightful place as King of our lives. The apostle Paul modeled that we should be jealous for each other with this Godly jealousy (2 Cor. 11:2), striving to guard one another from all rivals attempting to replace God on the throne of our lives.
The antidote to sinful envy is admiration, mentoring, and understanding our identity in Christ. As a high school senior, as I began to prayerfully support my freshman replacement, God taught me to begin to admire what He was doing through Him. It allowed me to learn from my friend and through the situation. I also began to feel more comfortable in my own skin as I began to realize who I was. I was not the freshman basketball star or the 6’5” star track athlete. In my attempt to be somebody I wasn’t, I was not fulfilling God’s purposes for me. Being envious of others was dishonoring to God. He bought me at a price, and He was calling me to glorify Him in my body (1 Cor. 6:20).
We praise our Sovereign and Holy God who is jealous for us! May we be jealous for each other and our children, protecting them from all worldly rivals. And when sinful envy creeps in, may we be quick to identify it and replace it with admiration. Our jealous God is eager to take the temptations of sinful envy to remind us of our eternal significance as children of God!